When to Plant in Fall

They are mostly native to mountainous areas of Europe and the near east — Spain, Turkey and Afghanistan. They actually need the dormant rest period of a long, cold winter. The melting snow and ice in early spring provide needed moisture as they start to grow and flower. Plant from September to December, even after the first frost if the ground can still be worked.

Bulbs can also be planted in individual holes. Dig a hole and sprinkle a tablespoon of a high phosphorous (middle number) fertilizer like Holland Bulb Booster in the bottom of the hole. Place the bulb in the hole with the pointed end up.

Cover the bulb with soil and water thoroughly. A 5 cm layer of mulch on top of the bed will help prevent winter weeds, retain moisture and insulate against severe winter cold and temperature fluctuations.

Preparing a bed for fall planted bulbs

  1. Prepare the bed
    Double digging will help to make a well-drained planting bed.
  2. Condition the soil
    Improve soil by adding three inches of peat moss and one inch of composted manure. Then work into a depth of 30 cm. Add 1 kg bonemeal for every 92.9 m2 (1000 sq.ft.)
  3. Plant — the sooner the better
    Point bulb upward. Add sprinkle of bloodmeal to deter squirrels from stealing bulbs for food.
  4. See chart at bottom for planting depth.
  5. Add 2-5 cm of mulch.

After flowering
The foliage must be allowed to remain to soak up sunshine and replenish the stored energy in the underground bulb. Only the flowering stems should be removed. In a few weeks, the foliage withers and dies down. This is the plant’s natural defense against the too hot summer sun in its original habitat.

Replanting your flower bed with summer annuals gives you the opportunity to use more bone meal which, with its high phosphorous content, is beneficial to both the new planting and the bulbs.

The chart below contains all the information you will need for successful bulb gardens:

Name of Bulb Height (cm) Planting Depth Comments
Tulips 38-76 12-18 Plant 15-20 cm apart in drifts of one colour in full sun.
Species tulips, Kaufmanniana 10-30 7.5-10 Plant 2.5-5 cm apart in full sun, early bloomers for rock gardens and borders.
Scilla 15 5-7.5 Plant 7.5-15 cm apart in clumps, early bloomers for rock gardens and borders.
Muscari 15-25 5-7.5 Plant 5-7.5 cm apart in rich, moist soil.
Crocus (Chrysanthus) 7.5-10 5-7.5 Plant 5-15 cm apart in large groups.
Great for rock gardens. Forces well.
Snowdrops (Galanthus) 7.5-10 5-7.5 Plant 5-7.5 cm apart in moist soil, great for naturalizing, can be forced, full sun or part shade.
Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa) 10-12.5 7.5-10 Plant 2.5-7.5 cm apart in large groups in full sun to light shade, three to four week blooming period, excellent choice for naturalizing.
Daffodil (Narcissus) 20-6 18-20 Plant in rich soil, full sun to part shade, great for forcing indoors, great for naturalizing.
Winter Aconite (Eranthis) 10 15 Plant 5-7.5 cm apart, very early flowering, blooms are bright buttercup-like flowers.
Crown Imperial (Fritillaria) 91 15-30 Plant 20-23 cm apart in sweet, well-drained soil, flowers mid-season.
Allium 35.5-91 15-30 Flowers May to June or July for Azureum Blue allium.
Iris (bulbs) 15-23 10-15 Very early flowering in full sun, well-drained soil.